Cam Newton leads the 15-1 Carolina Panthers back on the right path, despite last week’s lost to the Falcons. They would finish up the regular season with a 38-10 rout over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers yesterday giving them home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
A much needed first round bye will be welcome for the No. 2 seeded Arizona Cardinals to get their aging and bruised up quarterback Carson Palmer some much needed rest to go on a run to the Super Bowl.
A 20-13 win last night over the Green Bay Packers meant the Minnesota Vikings clinched the NFC North title. They are officially the No. 3 seed matching them against the Seattle Seahawks, who will be coming in with some confidence and a red-hot quarterback in Russell Wilson. Seattle blew out the Arizona Cardinals yesterday, more impressively they did it as the road team. Still everything isn’t “aces” for the Seahawks, there’s questions looming about “Beast Mode” running back Marshawn Lynch and whether he will be healthy to play next Saturday in the Wild card game.
Flying somewhat under the radar and coming into the playoffs with a ton of confidence and arguably the hottest team going in are the NFC East champion Washington Redskins. Washington enters the playoffs having one four straight games and five of their last six contests.
Kirk Cousins is hitting on all cylinders right now in Jay Gruden’s offensive supervised by Offensive Coordinator Sean McVay. “Captain Kirk” has been playing out of his mind, in just his last six games he’s tallied 14 touchdowns to just one interception. Along the way, his torrid second half of the regular season has helped him put together one of the best seasons for a Washington signal caller in team history.
Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers are another story. Rodgers can’t find anyone open and the running game has been extremely inconsistent After the Carolina debacle, no one gave Washington much of a chance, even if they made the playoffs by default of winning their division. They now have more than a chance, they could surprise some teams with a physical football team on both sides of the trenches with a hot quarterback.
Match-ups are going to be the key in this postseason for the teams that will be successful. Seattle knows that they will have to slow down the leading rusher Adrian Peterson and that means the resurgence of the “Legion of Boom” who has been suspect throughout most of the season, but strong as of late. With Russell Wilson coming to form, the Seahawks could get another chance at the Panthers, who defeated them earlier in the season in Seattle. Or Washington can continue to do the unfathomable and make a mess of everyone’s postseason brackets by making a good run, again it’s all about the matchups.